Like a staggeringly large number of people round the world, I have been eagerly awaiting the launch of what is now the Apple iPad. I even followed a live blog to get the latest blow by blow account of Steve Job’s presentation.
Of course tablets are not new but there are three reasons why I think Apple will succeed this time and they all link to usability. Not the ‘usability is just making it easy’ type of usability but the ISO 9241-11 version, where usability is defined as: effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction.
The iPad comes with almost all of the iPhone apps currently available, a mind numbingly large number of effective (and some less effective) applications. There are so many that the few lemons don’t really matter. And there is probably an app that just shows a lemon for you to pretend to put in your gin and tonic! It wouldn’t be the weirdest commercial success for apps.
Lots of people know how to use it. More than 75 million iPod Touchs and iPhones have been shipped and as Steve Jobs pointed out, they already know and love the multi-touch interface. Of course, I’ve not got my hands on one yet but I suspect the on-screen keyboard is surprisingly good.
As a committed Treo user I was very surprised at how well the iPhone keyboard works and I suspect the large iPad one will work well. There is also a proper keyboard for intensive use, when required, so I do not think that will be a problem.
3. User satisfaction
It almost goes without saying that the iPad will be a satisfying device, Steve Jobs couldn’t help cuddling it. It looks sleek and very attractive to hold and carry and the iPhone interface is a joy to use, especially for browsing.
I was asked a couple of days ago if the lack of a cover was a problem for a tablet. You only have to look at the market for iPod covers, holders and other accessories to realise that far from being a problem, the iPad has just opened up a whole new market.
The other question I was asked was whether people would buy it instead of a laptop, (which would be more powerful) or an iPhone (which would be more portable). I doubt that is the big market. All the early adopters will already have more of these existing devices than hands or eyes already. This is a new device and its integration with iBooks will help to ensure that it carves its own niche.
I could be wrong but I think Apple have another winner – an effective, efficient and satisfying device – a ground breaking device, which takes usability very, very seriously.